Dolci della Nonna – indulge at Dolci Cafe Craighall Park

Over the last few years or so I’ve had some scrumptious meals at Dolci Café (in the Lancaster Village half a block from Liz at Lancaster). And guests of course love the convenience as well as the menu. But it is only recently that I have discovered that Luciana Righi of Assagi and Amacord fame is now firmly entrenched in the kitchen at Dolci. And what’s more that she is also Jackie Righi-Boyd’s mother.  

Jackie (who was a pastry chef.. guess she still is) and husband Clayton Boyd started Dolci Café back in 2015. While it has been a wonderful neighbourhood restaurant, Luciana’s authentic Italian stamp has added a new dimension to Dolci’s offerings.  

Luciana’s first restaurant was the Trattoria in Southbroom, KZN which she sold 23 years ago. Remarkably,  it is still owned and run by the people who bought from her all those years ago.  Her next venture was Tre Nonni in nearby Grafton Ave (next door to the Market Place in Craighall Park). The tre nonni are seen in the image below (now hanging in Dolci’s new section). 

A painting of Tre Nonni which hung in Luciana’s restaurant of that name in Grafton Ave – now hanging in the new section at Dolci

Another Luciana incarnation was the very well-known Assagi in Illovo Shopping Cente and then later Amacord in Thrupps Centre. Both these restaurants and Tre Nonni have closed down since Luciana sold.  And after closing Amarcord in Blairgowrie, she moved across to Dolci and at the grand age of 76 (maybe even 77?).    

Breakfast … lunch …. supper … you’ll have a fabulous meal. Their anchovy toast is the best … anchovies and butter reduced to a paste would certainly explain the flavourful subtlety.  The Porcini mushrooms on sourdough are a taste sensation as is their steak salad (with cherry tomatoes and red onion pan fried in a slightly sweet sauce served with wilted rocket and a gorgonzola sauce).The salmon pasta is sublime and of course the Italian dishes of tripe (which I have not tried), liver, and melanzane are all on the menu and have met with great approval from others around the table.    

Dolci Cafe: There’s the option of tapas type portions to share as well
Seen in the picture are Luciana’s grandparents: Grandmother Ida (1887-1970) at top; Grandfather Venturi (bottom right); and her uncle Adolfo (bottom left)

When  I asked about the 3 photos above , Luciana insisted that I try just a sliver of Nonna Ida’s Dolci della Nonna – a heavenly mix of Amaretto biscuits, zabaglione and cream, dark chocolate and chopped pecan nuts with a little bit of Sicilian Marsala thrown in. Wicked!    

Dolci Della Nonna – a signature dessert at Dolci Cafe Craighall Park

Dolci has now expanded into the previous pizzeria space nextdoor . Renovations have been made to turn this space into a dining bar for overflow from Dolci (yes .. that’s how good the food is – they have an excess of customers!). The pizza side of the menu  have been contracted out to O’ver Pizza (Napoli style).  

And of course if you are in Sandton, you can visit Jackie and Clayton at Bistro Dolce Vita in Morningside which they opened in June of this year. 

 

 

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